Dr E Faye Williams2

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

TriceEdney—At President Obama’s first inauguration, my sister (Bettye LaVette) sang “A Change is Gonna Come” with Bon Jovi.  Well, change has come!  President Obama just made the insightful move to normalize relations with Cuba!  Say what they will, his critics cannot say he doesn’t keep his promises. He is still receiving major pushback, but he is doing what he promised voters he would do.  He doesn’t just talk.  He acts!  What a refreshing difference between Congress and the President!

The embargo of more than 50 years has done nothing to resolve U.S. differences with the Cuban government, and has only hurt the Cuban people.  Now, President Obama has announced plans to re-open a U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.  In the words of Vice-President Joe Biden, this is a big ####### deal!

Although both are too young to actually remember the corruption of the Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, sexual deviance/debauchery, and criminal connection with the Mafia (We still have our share!),  allowed in Cuba under his rule, Senator Marco Rubio and Soledad O’Brien—both of Cuban descent — have vastly different outlooks about re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Senator Rubio wants to continue Cold War tactics that’ve failed the interests of the United States and the general population of Cuba.  He opines that, “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to perpetuate itself in power.”  He holds onto to these antiquated views despite the fact that as far back as 2009, a Washington Post—ABC News survey told us that two-thirds of the American people supported restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. That number has increased.

On the other hand, Soledad O’Brien, whose mother is Cuban, puts a human face on the harm of the embargo.  She tells the sad story of her mother having to miss the funerals of five of her siblings because of the restrictions on travel to Cuba through the years.  How truly sad this is when our diplomatic policies fly in the face of our “family values” rhetoric.

What the President did will normalize family contact between Cubanos on the island with those residing in the U.S.  His actions won’t heal over 50 years of denials, hurt and unimaginable pain, but the act goes a long way in preventing such tragedies in the future.

The embargo cannot be completely lifted until Congress takes reasonable action, but I applaud President Obama for opening travel and trade opportunities, education and artistic exchanges, family visits and more. Unfortunately, lifting the embargo will not be an easy task; history and traditions influence the objections of many legislators who stand in the spotlight of hypocrisy as they demonstrate little difficulty in dealing with larger nations with more resources, yet worse human rights records. Their righteous indignation ends where BUSINESS begins.

Reality should tell us there are no perfect nations.  Our own battles with police-community relations, gun tragedies, racism, gender discrimination, immigration issues and congressional relations demonstrate that we have a long way to go before we can cast stones.

For those who’ve not been able to accept the fact that a brilliant, compassionate, courageous Black man is our President, it’s obvious that we have a very long way to go.  As a Black woman belonging to a group that’s traditionally discriminated against by nearly every segment of our society, I have not given up hope that we can do better.  With all the hatred and meanness of spirit we’re witnessing now, we’re not beyond repair and not beyond becoming that shining light on the hill—but we have work to do.  We just need enough good people rising up to say and do what is right.

 (National Congress of Black Women, Inc.  www.nationalcongressbw.org and www.efayewilliams.com.)